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The Campaigns of Napoleon Hardcover – March 1, 1973

4.7 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Eliot Fremont-Smith Books of the Times A massive and absorbing -- one is tempted to say definitive -- account and detailed analysis of the military career of Napoleon....The descriptions of the battles -- all the important ones, and all augmented by superb position maps -- have perhaps never been done with greater clarity.

The New York Review of Books Chandler can hold up his head with the best of them. His prose is as clear as his intellect....his scholarship is excellent...this is a fine book for the historian, the student, and the intelligent reader.

Los Angeles Times Chandler's analysis is so thorough that there is hardly an area untouched.

The New Yorker The book is engrossing, and...amounts to a first-rate general account of Europe in the Napoleonic era....brilliant, unremittingly attentive to detail and sparkling with insights into a man, a nation, and an epoch.

The Boston Globe Writing clearly and vividly, [Chandler] turns dozens of persons besides Napoleon from mere wooden soldiers into three- dimensional characters.

John Barkham Book Week In every way...a pleasure to read...a remarkable work which comes as close to dissecting the ingredients of Napoleon's military genius as any I have read...[it is] that rare combination -- a book impeccable in its expertise, penetrating in its analysis, and attractive in its presentation. No matter how numerous your books on Napoleon, make room for this one.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Few works equal the scope and scholarship of Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon...a masterpiece in the truest sense of what military history ought to be.

About the Author

David G. Chandler is Head of the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and a Fellow of both the Royal Historical and the Royal Geographical societies. He is President of the British Commission for Military History and a Vice- President of the Commission International d'Histoire Militaire.

During his researches for The Campaigns of Napoleon, Mr. Chandler made considerable use of primary sources -- including the thirty-two volumes of Correspondence de I'Empereur Napoleon Iier -- and consulted many contemporary memoirs and military commentaries. (This he did with some caution, for such material is often far from reliable.) He also examined many of the most revealing and interesting studies that have been written by soldiers and scholars over the past 145 years, and he incorporated extracts from recently discovered sources in the hope of illuminating still further the well- trodden paths of Napoleonic studies.

The author of a dozen works on early eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century military history, David G. Chandler is a recognized authority in the Marlburian and Napoleonic periods. His other publications include A Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars, 1979, Waterloo -- The Hundred Days, 1980, An Atlas of Military Strategy, 1980, and Napoleon's Marshals, (editor), 1987. He has also contributed a chapter to Volume VI of the New Cambridge Modern History as well as numerous articles and reviews to magazines and journals. Chandler lives in Yately, Hampshire, England.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1172 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (March 1, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0025236601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0025236608
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 2.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is, without question, the best single volume reference in English on the campaigns of Napoleon. This book is not perfect, and I would agree with some of the negative points made by other reviewers, but I cannot understand how anyone would give this less than five stars. There is simply no other book that is even comparable to this one. This book is to the Napoleonic Wars what Shelby Foote's series is to the American Civil War, absolutely indispensible for any serious (amateur or professional) historian or student of the era.

This book is really three books in one: it is partly a biography of Napoleon, partly an analysis of his art of war, and partly a history of his campaigns. It covers NBs youth, his meteoric rise to prominance after the French Revolution, and every campaign that he participated in. I've read this book cover to cover three times, and individual chapters so many times that I've lost count. Chandler's writing style is engrossing and easy to read, not dry summaries of facts and events and dates. He is both a great writer and a great historian.

My (or others') disagreements with Chandler on individual points simply do not detract from this masterly work. I would agree, however, that this book is very Anglo-centric, probably its biggest drawback. Historians are often looking for `balance' in their assessments, and it is in this area that Chandler is weakest. I think he overplays the role of the English in ultimately defeating Napoleon, although this is a problem with virtually everthing that has been written about Napoleon by the English. Oddly, I would also agree that Chandler treats Napoleon with almost hero worship. Too much hyperbole perhaps, but this is more of a literary criticism of the text rather than historical.
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Format: Hardcover
David Chandler provides a thorough review of Napoleon's 60 battles. He demonstrates that Napoleon, while not an innovator in tactics, was nonetheless a master of innovations developed by others and was capable of great innovation. The subject, of course, is extremely broad, and as long as this book is, it could have been much longer. Chandler omits a great deal of biographical detail about Napoleon to concentrate on his development as a military leader. Indeed, if you find this book too long to read or expensive to buy, I suggest getting a copy from the library and just reading the chapter that gives an overview for how Napoleon went about conducting his campaigns.
I do not agree with those who say that Chandler exhibits a British bias. He clearly sees Napoleon as the greatest military leader of his time, and perhaps of all time. In other writings, he has soundly rejected comparisons made by other historians between Hitler and Napoleon. Moreover, he makes clear that, at least in the early years of his leadership, Napoleon was not to blame for the wars that engulfed Europe.
Finally, despite the length of the book, I found it to be extremely readable, and not hard to finish at all.
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Format: Hardcover
Whilst browsing around a bookshop one day I stumbled across a book by John Elting called "Swords around a throne- Napoleon's Grande Armee". It looked pretty interesting and as I had no inkling about Napoleon or his Grande Armee I decided to buy the book. After reading it again and again I was hooked!!! I needed more info about the great man and his campaigns. Which brings me to "The Campaigns of Napoleon" by David Chandler.
I read numerous reviews and all indications were that this was THE book to get on the subject. Well let me say I was not disappointed. This must be the best one volume treatment of Napoleon and how he wielded his Grande Armee! The book is very thorough and comprehensive...not for beginners. I found I had to read it twice to fully comprehend what was going on. This led me to buy Elting and Esposito's "A military history and atlas of the napoleonic wars". This book desribed step by step with excellent maps what Chandler had described and more since it dealt with all the napoleonic campaigns and not just the ones in which Napoleon had been involved as does Chandler's work.
All in all the above three books are must haves. Swords around a throne describes Napoleon's weapons- his Grande Armee, Campaigns of Napoleon describes the history of his use of the weapon and the atlas desribes how he used it in detail. Get all three!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Could even Shakespeare have imagined the triumph and tragedy that marked the life of Napoleon Bonaparte?
Like Caesar, Napoleon rose from obscurity and through sheer determination, utter ruthlessness, and all-consuming ambition to become the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth. And like Caesar, Napoleon's moment of triumph was short-lived, although the Waterloo campaign gave Napoleon the second chance his predecessor could only dream of.
David G. Chandler is that rarest of historians who combines the dogged research skills of a born academic with the light writing touch of a master storyteller. While this work is enormous in both detail and scope, it is eminently readable, each page filled with the wonders of the Napoleonic Era.
Far from pure biography, Chandler attempts to unravel the genius of Napoleon and explain the man and his times in terms even the military layman can understand. The longevity of this work (published 1973) attests to the success of this endeavor.
This book is an excellent choice for the budding military enthusiast, the Napoleonic fanatic, or the reader who wishes to begin his introduction to one of the great captains of history with the finest monograph ever published on the subject. Lavishly illustrated with maps, photographs, and drawings, you'll find The Campaigns of Napoleon to be simply the most accessible work on on of history's great men.
Vive L'Empereur! Vive Chandler!
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